Web Editor:Mike Eng
Do you remember that knot in your stomach on Monday morning as you tried to cope with your worst fears about school... being completely unprepared for that quiz in first period...or anticipating being the slowest runner in P.E. class... or worse yet, dreading that moment during lunch recess when you knew you would run into that bully who promised to smash your face.
Yet a new fear appears to be spreading on campuses from K thru college...the fear of ICE. What is ICE? It's the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement that has over 20,000 employees in 400 locations in the U.S. and 46 countries. With an annual budget of $6 billion, this is the agency that most likely will carry out the President's orders to locate and arrest up to 11 million suspected undocumented in the U.S.
Campuses, and communities across the U.S. and especially in Southern California are faced with distraught parents, teachers, administrators and especially students who demand a safe environment, free from ICE so that students can learn in an environment free from fear. Parents are panicked at the thought being taken away and separated from their children and workers are cringing at the thought of a return of workplace raids. Some no longer will drop off their kids or report to work.
So you think that as a 9th generation Californian with an impeccable U.S. birth certificate you have no reason to encounter any situation even remotely connected to ICE? Read this and think again.
1. You son or daughter (U.S. citizen for sure) has just brought some students into your living room to study and play video games. You hear a loud knock on the door. "ICE agents, open the door!" What do you do?
2. You are a teacher on a campus in Southern California and there's a rumor that ICE agents are about to come onto campus to locate an undocumented person of interest; possibly a student; possibly a worker. They knock on your door and want to question you. They also want to see the records of all the students in your class? They may even want to come back tomorrow and question two of your students. What do you do? Your school administrator has just received some legal documents asking to look at the financial aid application information of all students. What does she do?
3. Your friends from Church come to your house unannounced on Saturday morning. They tearfully confess that they have been undocumented living in the U.S. for over a decade. Their employer has already received phone calls from ICE wanting to know where they live. They hand you a piece of paper asking you to sign something that looks like a "power of attorney" or something about "guardianship" for the children who were born here. They fear that they could be picked up at any moment and they want you to help with 2 children who were born in the U.S. and also could you help "hide" a third child who is also undocumented. What would you do?
4. You work for a company and you like your job and you have many friends. One day you receive a phone call from an ICE agent who wants you to disclose where your friend lives and what time he reports to work and goes home as they claim he is wanted for questioning regarding his immigration status. The agents also want access to your company's computer records which have personnel information about all employees and you are in charge of that data. What do you do?
5. Your citizen son or daughter has been dating someone who just got picked up by ICE for being in the country illegally. Your offspring tells you that marriage could prevent this person form being deported and could you sign financial papers to support this person? What do you do?
In the coming weeks we will participate in "know your rights" events where attorneys and other experts will try to provide answers to some of these major concerns that are being expressed in communities all over the Southland and beyond and these answers will be shared in the Memo. Stay tuned...
Photo: Mike Eng is co-chairing a meeting with the District's Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez attended by students, faculty, staff, administrators and community advocates as we start to plan for the first in a series of "Know Your Rights" and "Know Your Resources" events to help meet the challenge of providing a learning environment conducive to student success. Our first such event will occur on March 24 at Los Angeles Trade Tech College.